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February 2006
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April 2006

March 2006

Mega Obsessive

Cut Man, Fire Man, and Elec ManI've been known to criticize game developers for taking beloved characters into places where I personally feel they don't belong.  Play a favorite game series for long enough and, like me, you'll probably develop a sense of continuity between the various games.  There are some facts and details that we just "know" about Mario or Link or Samus Aran, so when developers start tinkering with backstories and abilities for seemingly no good reason, it's understandable that die-hard fans become upset about the changes.

Miranda Paugh of The Mega Man Homepage is feeling a little tweaked these days because of what Capcom did to Mega Man's backstory in the new Sony PlayStation Portable title Mega Man: Powered UpShe's outlined a few things that concern her about this remake of the original Mega Man, some of which are good points and others that are just picking nits for the sake of complaining.

[W]hen you fight [Mega Man as a Robot Master], he not only has his slide from Mega Man 3, but he also has his Mega Buster from Mega Man 4. Uh. Did I just jump forward in time, or what? Speaking of which, Mega Man’s arm cannon is called the “Mega Buster” throughout this game even though it was never technically given that name until Mega Man 4. Also, Mega Man has the Energy Balancer in this game, which he doesn’t obtain until Mega Man 6. (And, if I want to get really picky, the Exit unit which he doesn’t get until Mega Man 7, but now I’m splitting hairs.)

So what if these additions to the game change the original Mega Man?  That's what Powered Up is all about in the first place.  It's a fun look back at a classic character and a classic game that builds on the original source material and adds in some of the good ideas developed later in the series.  Continuity is great, but becoming too obsessed with minutiae will suck the fun out of any game.


Bub presses the buttonI'm feeling better and out of bed which means it's time to get back to business.  I can't say that I formed a special bond with any particular video game during this health lapse.  Perhaps two weeks isn't long enough to do so, or maybe I should have chosen better video games to play while resting.  I didn't play much, but when I did I gave Super Princess Peach and Super Monkey Ball Touch and Roll each a go.  Peach has some platformer fun inside it, but I was disappointed that the game seemingly had no soul.  It felt hollow and very by-the-numbers, unfortunately.  As for Monkey Ball, it's more frustrating than fun.  The touch screen made sure of that with its spotty and unintuitive controls.  Oh well, they can't all be life-affirming gaming experiences.  Now then, let's get back to work.  Press The Buttons turned one year old last week and there's still lots to do.

- MattG


Mario New material on PTB has been sporadic lately and will continue to be so for a little while longer.  I've been very ill and thanks to the medication I take for pain and nausea plus the pain and nausea itself I've primarily just been in bed for the past week.  Hopefully things will get back to normal soon, so in the meantime go and play your favorite video games.  Be prepared to discuss when I return.

- MattG

The Cheetahmen Will Fight For You!

The Cheetahmen The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Consider the tale of Active Enterprises, a "game developer" (and I use the term loosely) from 1989 who had big dreams, less sense, and even less funding.  Active was the source of Action 52, a 52-in-1 game pak for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis.  Unfortunately, the 52 games fall into the trap of other poorly planned and poorly implemented multi-games of the time period: they're completely inept.  Then there's the Action GameMaster, the company's planned portable game system that played NES, Super NES, and Genesis cartridges plus had accessories for a TV tuner, camcorder, and its own proprietary 16-bit CD-ROM drive!  And it only measures more than one foot in diameter!  The future was truly here back in 1990.

Dig into Active's history and it would seem that their bid into the gaming world has less to do with churning out multi-games and more to do with launching a new licensed character group: The Cheetahmen!  And according to the poorly written opening text from The Cheetahmen, they will fight for you!  They are also ineptly programmed!  Yes, Active had the whole schmeer ready to go with video games (one released, two sequels planned), action figures, comic books, an animated syndicated cartoon show, and servo-controlled animatronic robots that appear at conventions around the world.  Ambitious?  Of course.  Successful?  Strangely enough, not so much.

(via MetaFilter)

Missing The Point

Sonic X-TremeHave you heard the news?  The most complete version of the long-lost unfinished Sega Saturn game Sonic X-Treme has surfaced and been sold for $2,500 to a private collector.  However, the game isn't so much an actual game, but a single level proof of concept demo to show Sega's Japanese executives.  There's a lot of lore with this story (as you may know), but what I want to point out today is how Joystiq is handling the news.  While announcing the sale the blog asks which unfinished games are worth $2,500.  The Joystiq readership has responded overwhelmingly with Halo 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

I think the Joystiqers are missing the point.  Both of those games are still in development and will be released at some point soon.  The idea here is to choose an unfinished forgotten game from years gone by that would be worth the large investment.  Correct answers to this question include Star Fox 2, Super Mario FX, Resident Evil 1.5, the original Mother 3, and Virtual Boy Mario Land (among plenty of others).  Exact dollar values vary, but paying large amounts for a game that will be in everyone's home this time next year is not a wise investment.

New Rampage Raises Important Questions

Rampage Total Destruction A new iteration of the classic Rampage is in the works for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2.  Entitled Rampage Total Destruction, the game features more city-bashing mayhem with mutated monsters George the Gorilla, Lizzie the Lizard, and Ralph the Wolf.  Retrogaming has word that there will be twenty-seven new monsters in this installment, too.

In addition to our old-school favorite characters, George, Lizzie, and Ralph, Rampage Total Destruction will also include a 27 new characters such as Icky the Echidna, Crock the Crocodile, and Rocky the Rock Monster. Looks like pretty soon they will be rivaling Marvel vs. Capcom 2, for the biggest character lineup. This should add a bit more character to an already fun game.

I remember Rampage from the rainy Saturdays of my youth when a friend and I would rent the game and waste an entire day demolishing buildings until the entire United States map turned black.  Then later came the sequel, Rampage World Tour, that I first encountered in an arcade at Universal Studios Orlando and then later in the compilation disc Midway Arcade Treasures 2.

One of the common themes in the Rampage world is that once a monster runs out of energy it turns back into its woefully underpowered small human counterpart.  I'm sure we all know the pain of seeing George fall from the top of a skyscraper and transform back into a little weakling.  After hearing about this new sequel I think it's crucial to raise an important question.  Classic game franchises tend to change as they evolve, so it's vital that we know right now whether or not Lizzie still turns back into a naked woman when she powers down.  A lot of gamers depend on... what?  Oh, like you're not just as curious.

Sonic Riders Review At AMN

Sonic Riders My review of the new Sonic the Hedgehog racing game, Sonic Riders, is now available at AMN.  I had an interesting time reviewing this one because while it's not a bad game, it's also not a great one.  It's decidedly average in most every respect.  I can't remember the last time I've seen a game end up, frankly, so bland.  It's challenging to write a review of a game that doesn't exceed my expectations or fail miserably.  The sad thing is that Sonic Riders wants to be an extreme turbo all-out racing event.  Instead it just comes out as more of the same, complete with "we'll settle this on the race track!" bits of dialog.  That's not to say it isn't fun, mind you.  It's just more of what we've seen plenty of times before.  As I said in the review, it's recommended, but from the discount rack in about six months.

Someone Get That Villain A Sandwich, Stat!

Amanda EvertLadies and gentlemen, say hello to Lara Croft's new arch-rival, Amanda Evert.  I think Joystiq says it best: "We have seen the enemy in [Eidos Interactive's] Tomb Raider: Legend, and she is... anorexic!"  I don't generally harp on virtual aesthetics, but look at this woman.  She's thin enough to snap like a twig the first time she vaults off a cliff or does some other extreme tomb raidin' thing.  I can see her virtual ribs for cryin' out loud.  Please, Eidos, listen to me when I say that you have to feed your actors.  I don't fault Amanda for being an evil and greedy character.  I'd be evil and greedy too if I'd hadn't eaten for several months!

It's good to see that Eidos is starting to learn the lesson that big breasted women do not a good game make.  Now it's time to start hammering the second lesson: wafer-thin women do not a good game make either.  Don't get me wrong, the gameplay may be great, but I feel for Amanda.  I'd rather see her end the game with a good meal than some powerful ancient artifact.

Weekly Poll: Third Time's The Charm

Weekly Poll for 02-19-2006 The results are nearly evenly split regarding a classic film revival.  Personally I want to see something with Back to the Future and Ghostbusters.  I can't begin to count the hours I spent as a kid playing Ghostbusters on the Commodore 64.  The Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System versions of the game were visually superior, but it's the old Commodore version that still has a warm place in my heart (even if I never could get past the Marshmallow Man on the first try).

After taking a week off it's time to consider important matters.  As you may know, Sonic Riders is among us.  Sega and Sonic Team has claimed that the world had been demanded a new racing title featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and friends.  I'm pretty sure I didn't demand such a thing.  Did you?  Do you believe that gamers around the world begged Sega to create a new Sonic racer?  I think I know the answer, but I'd like to hear from you.

Birthday Wishes From The Mushroom Kingdom

Mario Today is my birthday.  Another year older... my goodness, has it really been twenty years since I first picked up a video game controller?  Time flies, that's for sure.  I've been given my fair share of games as birthday gifts over the years, but today I find myself thinking back to one of my favorite game-related birthday memories to the time when, for the first time, I absolutely craved a sequel to a beloved video game.  When I tell you that this story leads up to March of 1990 I'm sure you can figure out where this is all headed...

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